MOSCOW, April 9 (RIA Novosti)
Events in Moldova may trigger "Ossetian scenario" in Transdnestr/ Kremlin reaps bitter fruit in Chechnya/ Government to monitor investment in Internet projects/ Demand for cars falls faster than expectations in Russia
Nezavisimaya Gazeta, Gazeta, Rossiiskaya Gazeta
Events in Moldova may trigger "Ossetian scenario" in Transdnestr
The "Romanian factor" that Moldovan President Vladimir Voronin openly said was responsible for the latest unrest in the republic, has encouraged self-proclaimed Transdnestr to demand guarantees for its sovereignty.
Some Russian politicians say the storming of Moldova's parliament and other events could put an end to the talks between Chisinau and Tiraspol and encourage Transdnestr to demand that its independence be recognized.
Vladimir Antyufeyev, the security minister for Transdnestr, has ordered that security on the border with Moldova be tightened to prevent the risk of unrest spreading to the region.
"In the past, the threat of Moldova's unification with Romania divided the two regions and provoked the Transdnestr conflict," said Vladimir Yastrebchak, the foreign minister of the breakaway republic. "The Romanian factor has not disappeared in the 20 years since then, as evidenced by the developments in Chisinau. In this situation we need to protect the security and interests of the people."
Konstantin Zatulin, a member of the State Duma, the lower house of Russia's parliament, and head of the Moscow-based Institute of the CIS, said the events in Moldova could activate a mechanism for the declaration of independence of Transdnestr.
But Konstantin Kosachev, chairman of the State Duma international affairs committee, said it would be counterproductive to discuss the Transdnestr problem now.
"It is more important for us to express support for the Moldovan authorities, especially since this is the fifth attempt at a color revolution after Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Ukraine and Georgia," Kosachev said.
Political analyst Sergei Karaganov said: "We should not review our policy in the region, if only because the Moldovan leadership, seeing that the EU and Romania are reluctant to help, will now adjust their policies to that of Russia. We should try to act as an intermediary. If we fail, Transdnestr will become one more unrecognized but de facto independent country."
Kremlin reaps bitter fruit in Chechnya
Moscow's policy-makers perhaps did not plan it, but their policies have resulted in Caucasian "traditional values" spreading all over Russia and even beyond the borders.
A statement by Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov on the assassination of his personal foe Sulim Yamadayev appears to defy an ordinary sense of logic. At first, Kadyrov argues that Yamadayev could have been the target of "blood-feud," prevalent throughout the republic. However, a few days later, Kadyrov spoke about the Hero of Russia's involvement in the 2004 assassination of his father, President Akhmad Kadyrov, and thus, by default, was implying Yamadayev was a potential target in a "blood-feud." Today it reads like the old tale of a broken pot: first the character says he never took the pot, and then he goes on to say that the pot was cracked when he took it.
To judge from his public remarks, Ramzan respects Chechen traditions and takes an understanding view of blood feuding or, say, polygamy. Kadyrov calls State Duma deputy Adam Delimkhanov, who Dubai police have accused of being the mastermind and planner of the crime, his "right-hand man," that is, he is protecting him. Here he is a stickler. And confident that Moscow will back him despite a long line of murders of Chechens by Chechens both in Chechnya, in Moscow and abroad.
Making the conflict an all-Chechen affair has brought peace to the once rebel republic but led to the unpublicized export of strong-arm services outside it: President Kadyrov is offering to send Chechen special units to Karelia to establish law and order on its territory (following inter-ethnic clashes in Kondopoga), while former militants, fully armed and flaunting papers of Chechnya's law enforcement bodies, are thronging to the Russian capital (following one of a similar such "mission" to Moscow, Movladi Baisarov, the former commander of the Gorets unit, was shot dead on a crowded street).
Kadyrov is loyal to Moscow and, judging by everything, follows the "proper" line in distributing cash. We do not know the limits of his freedom, but are learning more with every passing day. It seems to have no boundaries and appears to be a blank check. Now it remains only to learn if Moscow has any way of reining it in.
Government to monitor investment in Internet projects
Foreign investment in Russia's largest Internet projects is nothing out of the ordinary, yet the government plans to monitor them for security reasons, President Dmitry Medvedev said.
The Ministry of Communications and the Media is considering ways to implement the president's order. Analysts say there is no cause for concern.
A ministry official said they were working on "security criteria" as a basis for including companies on a list of strategic assets.
The Internet has de facto become a strategic resource, said Yelena Lashkina, the ministry's press secretary.
She cited the example of the law on foreign investment, under which a newspaper with a circulation of at least 1 million can be listed as a strategic asset. The same requirements could be applied to the Internet, Lashkina said.
Major Internet companies could be interesting to the state, said Arkady Volozh, head of Russia's largest search engine, Yandex. But the rules for grading them as strategic should be the same for them all, he said.
Russia's leading Internet resources are sufficiently well protected from a foreign takeover, said Alexei Belyayev, president of the Internet and Business association.
There are already mechanisms for monitoring the Internet, but we need common and transparent rules for all market players, said Rafael Akopov, president of the Profmedia holding, which controls the Rambler search engine.
Analysts say that although foreign investors established and are major shareholders of a number of popular sources in the Russian part of the Internet, it is Russians who control them.
For example, the leading companies of social networks V Kontakte and Odnoklassniki were founded by the Cyprus-registered Yaboda Investments Ltd. and Britain's Odnoklassniki Ltd., respectively. But their controlling shareholder is the investment company Digital Sky Technology, or DST, co-owned by Yury Milner, Grigory Figner and Alisher Usmanov.
DST also holds a 53.2% stake in the Internet holding Mail.ru.
Demand for cars falls faster than expectations in Russia
Automakers are reviewing their annual sale forecasts. Only Volkswagen, Citroen and several premium brands have increased sales despite the global economic downturn.
Car sales usually soar in spring, but not this year, managers say.
According to the Association of European Businesses (AEB), Russians bought 135,500 new cars this March, which is 33% less than in March 2008. In all, Russian dealers have sold 387,800 automobiles since the beginning of the year, mostly last year's models.
Only Volkswagen and Citroen have increased sales of their popular brands.
The German concern did well from its assembly plant in Kaluga, which has not been affected by the increase of car import duties. The French company explained its good results by the production of new models.
"Our sales are also increasing thanks to effective loan programs with a zero interest rate," said Oksana Vershinina, head of the company's marketing division.
Premium brands such as the Infiniti, Cadillac and Hummer are also enjoying considerable demand.
Konstantin Romanov, an analyst with the Finam investment company, said the change in dynamics in the Russian market "reflects crisis marginalization in the automotive business, where the medium-priced car segment has been hit the hardest while the cheap and expensive car segments feel more at home."
The analyst says the middle class now prefer to buy cheap cars because of prohibitive interest rates on loans, while the purchase of expensive cars is viewed as an anti-inflation investment and also reflects uncertainty in other investment spheres.
"Foreign-made cars will likely be hit the hardest," Romanov said. "The sales of Russian auto plants will be supported by easy loans and state purchases. The expensive segment has a fair chance of growing, although the dynamics will slow."
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